Stay close, go further

Rug up and experience the best the Goldfields have to offer this winter. Hunker down in cafes, restaurants and wineries for warming winter feasts and embrace seasonal celebrations. There's plenty of things to do indoors, to keep you cosy. Here are some top spots to help you join the winter fun in the Goldfields.

1. Arty endeavours

Don't miss Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary, a retrospective exhibition on the iconic British fashion designer Dame Mary Quant. Running from 20 March – 11 June, it's exclusive to Bendigo Art Gallery. Try your hand at a 'Paint and Sip' workshop at Babylon Lounge & Garden Bar, where art is paired with wine. Or wander through to Wedderburn in the Loddon Valley for the town's freshly painted 'Birds Eye View Murals', which pay homage to the area's unique birdlife.

2. Winter Wonderlights

Don your most colourful Christmas jumper and head to Ballarat's Sovereign Hill after sunset to see the open-air museum transformed. Running from 25 June to 18 July, the Winter Wonderlights offerings includes a light show, full theatre program and plenty of fun activities.

3. Hearty food

Serious about steak? Head to The Woodhouse Restaurant in Bendigo and breathe in the smoky scent of Bendigo's only redgum chargrill. Drop into Lyttle Eat Street to get a taste of their 'Slow Smoking Saturdays', as they serve up slow-cooked and smoky bites every Saturday throughout winter. Warm up with a steamy cup of joe at new Ballarat eatery Clothesline Cafe. Search for a sugar hit at Higher Society and Webster Street Market & Cafe, who each offer Ballarat-made hot chocolate 'Grounded Pleasures' on their menu.

4. Local sips

Settle in for a fireside wine at Mitchell Harris, order a creative cocktail at 18th Amendment, or warm up with whisky and goat's cheese donuts at new  bar Renard. Take a short drive out of Ballarat to Michael Unwin and Captains Creek Organic Wines or go further with a road trip through the Pyrenees wine region. Stretch your legs at Café Sidra, the cellar door for Learmonth Cider, and grab a drink at its new airstream bar, Little Sid. From Bendigo, head towards Heathcote's renowned wine region to jump on the 'Women in Wine' cellar door trail, which includes Sanguine Estate Wine, Munari Wines, Vinea Marson, Silver Spoon Estate and Farmer & The Scientist — all within a ten-minute drive of each other.

5. Seasonal produce

Catch your own lunch at Tuki Trout Farm or head to their restaurant for a pond to pan or paddock to plate experience. The winter season is prime truffle hunting time. Join Black Cat Truffles for a day of tasty treats, as you learn more about these elusive delicacies. Get a taste of the region at Wild Food and Wine, a restaurant in Castlemaine that celebrates local farmers, producers and winemakers. Be sure to book a seat at the table for Talbot Provedore and Eatery's delicious winter degustation on June 26.

6. Nature hikes

Rug up and embrace the great outdoors this winter. Mount Buninyong is only a twenty-minute drive from Ballarat and has superb views of the surrounding region. Bring your camera on a snowy day for epic shots. For more scenic views, take to the trails around Lal Lal and Moorabool Falls.

7. Haunts and history

The Goldfields is Victoria's go to region for budding ghost hunters. Spend a misty winter's evening exploring Ballarat with Eeerie Tours. Hear ghostly tales, set across the backdrop of the city's beautiful Gothic-inspired architecture. Bendigo too has a similarly spooky past. Let the team at Twisted History guide you through the city's streets, to its most haunted spaces.

8. Keep warm indoors

Gather a group of friends or take time for yourself at Ballarat Sanctuary Day Spa. Rummage through second-hand vinyl, retro clothing, antique jewellery and more at Ballarat Mill Markets, or score a one-of-a-kind find at new vintage clothing store Granddad's Sweater. Go for gold at Castlemaine Vintage Bazaar and The Mill Castlemaine, or try your luck at The Restorers Barn (open by appointment only).

9. Accommodation

Lounge in luxury at Battista, a newly renovated self-contained apartment in the former Ballarat Baptist Church, or sleep sweet dreams in 'The Stables' — cosy cottages located at Heart of Gold winery.

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